Palms Behavioral Health opening hospital doors to public, patients Aug. 1

HARLINGEN — A ribbon-cutting and a daylong open house is on tap Monday at Palms Behavioral Health.

The new 94-bed mental health care facility at 613 Victoria Lane will immediately begin taking patients, officials said.

The $13 million mental health facility will fill what experts have lamented is a serious gap in such medical care in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Harlingen Area Chamber of Commerce and Palms Behavioral Health will hold the ribbon cutting beginning at 9 a.m.

Ceremonies will begin with remarks by the director of business development for Palms Behavioral Health, Bobby Molina, followed by the CEO of Palms Behavioral Health, Michael Sauceda, founder and president of Strategic Behavioral Health System Jim Shaheen, CEO of Driscoll Health Plan Mary Dale Peterson, Mayor Chris Boswell, State Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. and chamber President and CEO Chris Gonzales.

Tours of the 63,200-square-foot facility, food and prizes will be offered to the public throughout the day.

The newest Harlingen hospital is part of a rapid national expansion by Memphis-based Strategic Behavioral Health, which by year’s end will operate a dozen psychiatric treatment hospitals.

It also is a major addition to Harlingen’s growing importance as a regional medical treatment destination. Palms joins large hospitals Valley Baptist Medical Center and Harlingen Medical Center as part of the city’s growing medical community.

Sauceda, the Palms CEO, served in administrative capacities with United Health Services, the South Texas Health System and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburgh.

Sauceda served as administrator over behavioral health care at Doctors Hospital from February 2015 to March, when he was hired to run Palms Behavioral Health.

In an interview in June, Sauceda said the Valley has made strides in improving mental health care, but said a lack of treatment options for patients remains. He said Palms Behavioral Health will begin to help fill some of those gaps.

When fully staffed, Palms Behavioral Health is expected to employ 225 people, company officials have said.